Magpies, cayugas and Indian runners: How to tell New Zealand ducks apart

Traditional domestic duck breeds are rare in New Zealand so you will have to hunt around to find breeders in your area, or a supplier of fertile eggs.

Words: Nadene Hall  Photos: Marina Steinke & Chris Wuest

Talk to your local poultry club, and check out the duck breeder’s directory of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of NZ. If you want ducks for eggs, duck breeder Fiona Taylor recommends concentrating on Khaki Campbells and Indian Runners.

“They can out-lay a lot of hens no problems at all if you get one from a good laying strain – over 200 eggs a year. What I like is they’re a good size, they’ve got that sturdier, more robust shell, and you get quite a large yolk in proportion to the white – you’ll generally find the old farmer’s wife’s sponge recipe always used duck eggs so they could get that good colour.”


Pekins have a bigger, heavier body with a big carcase and are great if you want to eat your ducks. The Rouen is a utility breed, a good layer and offers a good meat carcase as well.


Colour: white glossy feathers, orange legs, pink-white bill
Origin: Aylesbury, England
Type: heavy, meat


Colour: black and white, blue and white (very rare)
Origin: Wales
Type: dual-purpose (eggs, meat)


Colour: metallic green-black with lustrous feathers (also known as beetle-green)
Origin: USA
Type: dual-purpose (eggs, meat)


A pekin duck in the middle of a group of Ayleburys.

Colour: Creamy-white, bright orange bill, legs and feet
Origin: China
Type: heavy (meat)


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Colour: silver-grey and brown feathers with basic Mallard pattern
Origin: England
Type: dual-purpose (eggs, meat)


Colour: females are a warm khaki-brown colour, males have a greenish-bronze head and wing bars
Origin: Gloucestershire, England
Type: light, layer


Colour: slate blue, white blotch on throat and upper breast
Origin: Sweden
Type: heavy, meat


Colour: various, originally white or fawn
Origin: Indonesia
Type: light, layer


Orpington: various colours including buff (red-gold), heavy breed bred from Indian Runner, Aylesbury and Rouens.
Rouen: French breed, comes in two sizes, large and small, looks similar to a Mallard but can’t fly.
Welsh Harlequin: very pretty, developed from the Khaki Campbell, Mallard colour pattern but variety of fawn, cream, browns and black feathering.

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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